Meaning of Intercession: Asking an intermediary to plead one’s request in front of another.
Shafa’a means even (like odd and even). Intercession means to plead your case in front of another being. You and the intermediary together are 2 (even).
“To Allaah belongs exclusively (the right to grant) intercession.” (Az-Zumar, 39:44)
For any intercession to be accepted by Allah
Allah must allow the intercessor permission to intercede. “Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission?” (2:255)
Allah must be pleased with the person on whose behalf intercession is sought. “On that Day shall no intercession avail except for those for whom permission has been granted by Most Merciful and whose word is acceptable to Him.” (TaaHaa, 20:109) And, “No intercession avails with Him, except for those for whom He has granted permission.” (Saba’:23)
In the end all shafa’ah belongs to Allah. One verse combining both conditions of intercession – “And how many an angel is there in the heavens, but their intercession shall be of no avail, except after Allaah gives permission to whomsoever He wills and pleases.” (An-Najm, 53:26)
The intercession was the means chosen by Allah to forgive these particular people. Honor for the intercessor and a means for the one interceded for. If we want shafa’ah, we ask for it from the one who owns it.
The way to ask for it is du’a like after Adhan, we ask Allah to grant the Prophet (saw) the Maqam Mahmood which is the maqam of shifa’ah.
Types of Religious Intercession
General for all creation (as long as previous two conditions are met)
Raise their ranks in Paradise
Saved from Fire of Hell before entering it.
Removed from Fire after having entered it, before their time is completed.
These types of Shafa’ah are open to everyone.
Specific for the Prophet (saw)
Intercession to start the Reckoning on the Day of Judgement
Intercession on behalf of his entire Ummah to enter Paradise
Intercession to open the gates of Paradise
“Some (cooked) meat was brought to Allah Apostle and the meat of a forearm was presented to him as he used to like it. He ate a morsel of it and said, “I will be the chief of all the people on the Day of Resurrection. Do you know the reason for it? Allah will gather all the human being of early generations as well as late generation on one plain so that the announcer will be able to make them all-hear his voice and the watcher will be able to see all of them. The sun will come so close to the people that they will suffer such distress and trouble as they will not be able to bear or stand. Then the people will say, ‘Don’t you see to what state you have reached? Won’t you look for someone who can intercede for you with your Lord’ Some people will say to some others, ‘Go to Adam.’ So they will go to Adam and say to him. ‘You are the father of mankind; Allaah created you with His Own Hand, and breathed into you of His Spirit (meaning the spirit which he created for you); and ordered the angels to prostrate before you; so (please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are? Don’t you see what condition we have reached?’ Adam will say, ‘Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. He forbade me (to eat of the fruit of) the tree, but I disobeyed Him. Myself! Myself! Myself! (has more need for intercession). Go to someone else; go to Noah.’ So they will go to Noah and say (to him), ‘O Noah! You are the first (of Allah’s Messengers) to the people of the earth, and Allaah has named you a thankful slave; please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ He will say.’ Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become nor will ever become thereafter. I had (in the world) the right to make one definitely accepted invocation, and I made it against my nation. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Abraham.’ They will go to Abraham and say, ‘O Abraham! You are Allaah’s Apostle and His Khaleel from among the people of the earth; so please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ He will say to them, ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. I had told three lies (Abu Haiyan (the sub-narrator) mentioned them in the Hadeeth) Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Moses.’ The people will then go to Moses and say, ‘O Moses! You are Allaah’s Apostle and Allaah gave you superiority above the others with this message and with His direct Talk to you; (please) intercede for us with your Lord, Don’t you see in what state we are?’ Moses will say, ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will become thereafter, I killed a person whom I had not been ordered to kill. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Jesus.’ So they will go to Jesus and say, ‘O Jesus! You are Allaah’s Apostle and His Word which He sent to Mary, and a superior soul created by Him, and you talked to the people while still young in the cradle. Please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ Jesus will say. ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before nor will ever become thereafter. Jesus will not mention any sin, but will say, ‘Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Muhammad.’ So they will come to me and say, ‘O Muhammad! You are Allah’s Apostle and the last of the prophets, and Allah forgave your early and late sins. (Please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?” The Prophet added, “Then I will go beneath Allah’s Throne and fall in prostration before my Lord. And then Allah will guide me to such praises and glorification to Him as He has never guided anybody else before me. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad Raise your head. Ask, and it will be granted. Intercede It (your intercession) will be accepted.’ So I will raise my head and Say, ‘My followers, O my Lord! My followers, O my Lord’. It will be said, ‘O Muhammad! Let those of your followers who have no accounts, enter through such a gate of the gates of Paradise as lies on the right; and they will share the other gates with the people.” The Prophet further said, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, the distance between every two gate-posts of Paradise is like the distance between Mecca and Busrah (in Ash-Shaam).” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
This is shafa’ah for all mankind.
There is also shafa’ah al ‘udhma which is for Muslims for all of them to enter Jannah.
“…When I see my Lord, I will fall down in prostration and He will leave me as long as Allah wills to leave me. Then I will be told, ‘Raise your head, Muhammad. Speak and it will be heard. Ask and you will be given. Intercede and intercession will be granted.’ I will lift my head and praise Him with praises which my Lord will teach me. Then I will intercede and He will fix an amount for me and I will let them into the Garden. Then I will return and when I see my Lord, I will fall down in prostration and He will leave me as long as Allaah wills to leave me. Then I will be told, ‘Raise your head, Muhammad. Speak and it will be heard. Ask and you will be given. Intercede and intercession will be granted.’ I will lift my head and praise Him with praises which my Lord will teach me. Then I will intercede and He will fix an amount for me and I will let them into the Garden. Then I will return and say, “O Lord, only those remain in the Fire whom the Qur’aan has held and for whom being in it for ever is obliged.”‘ The Prophet, may Allaah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Anyone who said, “There is no god but Allaah” and has the weight of a grain of barley of good in his heart will come out of the Fire. Then anyone who said “There is no god but Allaah” and has the weight of a grain of what of good in his heart will come out of the Fire. Then anyone who said “There is no god but Allaah” and has the weight of a small ant of good in his heart will come out of the Fire.’”(Al-Bukhari)
This narration also says Allah chooses a group of people and says intercede on behalf of them.
Intercession for his Uncle: “He is in the peripheral regions of the Hellfire, and if it weren’t for me, he would have been in the lowest pits of the Hellfire.” (Agreed upon)
“On behalf of whom will your intercession be most Pleasing (to Allaah SWT ), Oh, Messenger of Allaah (saw)?” He replied: “Him who says: Laa illaha illallaah, sincerely, from his heart.”
Every prophet was granted one du’a that would be accepted. Every single prophet used that du’a in this world.
Musa’s dua was to make sure Fir’awn doesn’t accept until he sees the punishment. Sulaiman asked for a kingdom that would be given to none after him. The Prophet (saw) saved his dua for the Hereafter.
“I will come to the door of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection and ask permission for it to be opened (knock). The gatekeeper will say, ‘Who are you?’” He (saw) said,” I will say, ’Muhammad’.” He (saw) said, “He will say, ‘You are the one I have been ordered to (open for) not to open for anyone before you.’ ” (Muslim).
We will be the first ummah to enter even though we were last chronologically.
The best way to receive shafa’ah: Abu Hurairah asked Prophet (saw) who has the greatest chance to gain your shafa’ah on the day of judgment? Whoever says la ilaha illa Allah sincerely from his heart. Meaning – the one who perfects Tawheed.
Ironically, the ones who beg the Prophet(saw) for shafa’ah are actually doing the one thing (shirk) that disqualifies them from the shafa’ah.